Thursday, May 18, 2017

Queer There and Everywhere: 22 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Harper Collins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review*

Queer there and Everywhere: 22 People Who Changed the WorldAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Queer there and Everywhere: 22 People Who Changed the World
Author: Sarah Prager
Upcoming Release Date: May 23, 2017

Synopsis: This first-ever LGBTQ history book for young adults will appeal to fans of fun, empowering pop-culture books like  Rad American Women A-Z and Notorious RBG.

World history has been made by countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals—and you’ve never heard of many of them. Queer author and activist Sarah Prager delves deep into the lives of 22 people who fought, created, and loved on their own terms. From high-profile figures like Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to the trailblazing gender-ambiguous Queen of Sweden and a bisexual blues singer who didn’t make it into your history books, these astonishing true stories uncover a rich queer heritage that encompasses every culture, in every era.

By turns hilarious and inspiring, the beautifully illustrated Queer, There, and Everywhere is for anyone who wants the real story of the queer rights movement.


Review: This book is an excellent look at just 22 amazing people who shaped what it means to be queer now. There need to be more non-fiction books like this for young readers. The people described in this book are so different from each other, but they all have one thing in common. They were different. They were queer. And they found a way to use that to their advantage in a world where so many were against them. 

This book is inspirational, funny, sad, educational, and so much more. I hope this book finds its way into every library's Young Adult section.

I give this book a 5/5 and HIGHLY RECOMMEND it! The stories are short enough that this would make a perfect coffee table or waiting room book. 


Monday, May 15, 2017

The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game #2) by Evelyn Skye - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review*

The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game, #2)Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

My REVIEW of The Crown's Game

Title: The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game #2)

Author: Evelyn Skye
Upcoming Release Date: May 16, 2017

Synopsis: Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves. 


Review:  I love the fantastical, alternate history Russian world with magic that Evelyn Skye has created. The imagery in this sequel continues to impress me. I love how detailed the magic is described. 

Pasha, Vika, and Nikolai are once again at the center of all the drama happening in Russia. Each character is written so well, even the more minor characters. Their motivations and differing opinions make sense. This was a very interesting time in Russia's history so when you add magic, there's bound to be crazy happenings. 

I did find this book slower than the first. There's a lot more thinking and assessing motivation. The first book was a quick read for me. Now knowing the characters already so well, the excitement to turn the page and read the next chapter wasn't quite there. The first book also had the impending threat and anticipation of The Game. 

I give this book a 4.5/5. A wonderful sequel to an excellent book. If you are more familiar with Russian history than me, I'm sure you'll enjoy it even more. I definitely found myself wikipedia-ing things like the Decembrists (not the band). The Author's Note at the end was also helpful with how this story differed from what happened in our world.  


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Star Wars, Vol 4: Last Flight of the Harbinger (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

Star Wars, Vol 4: Last Flight of the HarbingerAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Star Wars, Vol 4: Last Flight of the Harbinger
Author: Jason Aaron
Illustrators: Jorge Molina, Matt Milla, & Mike Mayhew
Recent Release Date: January 31, 2017

Synopsis: Marvel's epic exploration of the Star Wars galaxy continues! First, take another dive into the journal of Obi-Wan Kenobi! Jabba the Hutt has a problem, and he's hired the Wookiee bounty hunter Black Krrsantan to find out exactly who's been thwarting his men! A certain old hermit of the dune wastes might know a little something about that... Then, take a walk on the Dark Side with Sgt. Kreel and an elite group of Imperial soldiers aboard the Star Destroyer Harbinger! It's a nigh-indestructible weapon of war. But it's also the target of the Rebels' new top-secret plan. Never afraid of defying the odds, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Leia Organa are determined to make this the last flight of the Harbinger! 



Review: This volume opens up with another look into Obi-wan's adventures on Tatooine while watching over young Luke. This one includes Black Krrsantan, the wookie bounty hunter. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru also get a little more agency that they have in the past. 

The rest of this volume focuses on the Rebels taking over a star destroyer. Sergeant Kreel and his team, Special Commando Advanced Recon or SCARE, also are heavily featured. It's nice to see some stormtroopers who are actually good at their job. 

Han and Leia banter this whole volume and it's lovely. So true to the original films. Sana is still working with the Rebels. I like the perspective she adds. I'm hoping she doesn't meet an untimely end as the ongoing series approaches The Empire Strikes Back events. 

The final panel is a great teaser. I am definitely interested in the next volume!

I give this fourth volume of the ongoing Star Wars series by Marvel a 4/5.  


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Star Wars: Darth Vader, Vol.4: End of Games (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

Darth Vader, Vol 4: End of GamesAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Star Wars: Darth Vader, Vol.4: End of Games
Author: Kieron Gillen
Illustrator: Salvador Larroca
Recent Release Date: December 6, 2016

Synopsis: Darth Vader has been secretly pursuing his own agenda, but now it is time for the End of Games. As Inspector Thanoth returns with some startling information, it seems that Vader may have passed his master's tests. But even after finding favor in the eyes of the Emperor, the Dark Lord's schemes may yet prove his undoing... Plus, the killer droids Triple-Zero and Beetee wreak havoc in their own homicidal adventure! Marvel's in-depth exploration of the Dark Side of Star Wars goes from strength to strength!



Review: This is the final volume in the Darth Vader ongoing series that has been going since Marvel first launched their Star Wars line. Although, another Darth Vader comic is coming soon, but that one takes place shortly after Revenge of the Sith. This took place shortly after A New Hope

This series followed Darth Vader's rise from defeat after the first Death Star was destroyed. This last volume finishes up that rise. 

My favorite part of this series was the introduction of Doctor Aphra and her murderous droids, Triple-Zee and Beetee. I'm very excited for the doctor to get her own series. The other original characters that Vader competed against were some of my least favorite characters in the new Marvel comicverse. They all seemed very "Legends" to me. Cybernetic implants and force powers. Imperial posture. Not my kind of characters. 

There is an epic lightsaber battle that is depicted midway through this volume. It bridges the prequel-era with the original trilogy nicely. 

I found the coda odd. I'm interested to see where it leads. If anywhere. 

I give this volume a 4.5/5. I enjoyed seeing it all come to an end. The droids really shined in this volume. 


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Star Wars: Han Solo (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

Han SoloAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Star Wars: Han Solo

Author: Marjorie Liu
Illustrator: Mark Brooks
Recent Release Date: January 3, 2017

Synopsis: Everyone's favorite scoundrel goes Solo! Han is given a top-secret undercover mission for the Rebellion: rescuing several informants and spies! His cover for the assignment? Only the biggest and most infamous starship race in the galaxy, the Dragon Void! A tournament he has dreamt of winning his entire life. With a chance of glory, can Han keep his mind on the mission? Or is failing Leia worse than losing? If that wasn't enough, there's also the small matter of finding a traitor within the Rebellion. As the Dragon Void heats up, can a certain Wookiee pal lend a hand in the mole hunt? Place your bets for the ultimate space race! Our money's on Han and the Millennium Falcon - after all, it's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs! 



Review: This comic is a great look into Han Solo as a character between A New Hope and The Empire Strike Back. He isn't quite as ingrained within the Rebellion, but he is having difficulties returning to the smuggler life. There are plenty of great bro moments between Han and Chewie. Leia is characterized well, too. 

This is a fun, adventure comic. There's an ancient Space Race. There's Imperials constantly on our protagonists' tails. Rebel Spies. Fun and new characters of all shapes and colors. I especially liked the character of Loo Re Anno. 

This is another great miniseries from Marvel. It focuses on Han Solo as a character and shows a story that fits with what he's made from. I give this comic a 5/5. Don't miss out on this one!


Monday, May 8, 2017

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (audiobook) - Paul's REVIEW

Sapiens: A Brief History of HumankindAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Audible

Title: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Year Published: 2015

Narrator: Derek Perkins
Audiobook Length: 15 hours 18 minutes

Synopsis: 100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. 

How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? 

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come? 

Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power ... and our future.


Review: This book is so eye-opening. I come from a science background. I have a degree in marine biology. Many of the subjects in this book were touched on in various classes I took like Sociology and Evolutionary Biology, but this book goes into more depth and makes it simple to follow. The economic chapters had my jaw dropping. The origin of money. So many things in the world only work because we all believe that they work.

This book follows the timeline of humanity. It is broad enough that I think most people would be able to follow. There are both simple and complex topics, but the more elaborate ones have excellent analogies and guides to understanding them better. 

I recommend every human on Earth to read this book. It gives you a perspective of all the things humans have done in the small blip we have been on this planet. I give this book a 5/5.   


Friday, May 5, 2017

Windwitch (The Witchlands #2) by Susan Dennard - Paul's REVIEW

Windwitch (The Witchlands, #2)Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Windwitch (The Witchlands #2)

Author: Susan Dennard
Recent Release Date: January 10, 2017

My REVIEW of Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)

Synopsis: After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.


Review: This series is soooooooo good! Windwitch follows in the steps of the amazing Truthwitch and continues to build this amazingly rich world. This book didn't go as fast as the first book did for me, but I think that's due to me already knowing most of the characters and being familiar with the world. I loved the discovery of the magic system in Truthwitch. Since the magic system has already been introduced, not as much time is spent on it.  But we do get to see magic used in new and interesting ways. 

The amount of POVs adds to the story! Whenever I finished a chapter, I'd read just a sentence of the next and be pulled in to continue reading to see how someone else's story was going. 

The mythology in this story is so deep. The different cultures are written so well, showing in the mannerisms and how people from different areas talk. The world is so complex. It feels even bigger than the stories these books are focusing on. We got a little more politics in this sequel. I like seeing the differing sides. 

The characters in this book are so awesome! I won't go into details, but: CAM!!! VIVIA!!! OWL!!!

I give this second book in The Witchlands series a 5/5. If you haven't read Truthwitch, you need to get on that immediately!


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (audiobook) - Paul's REVIEW

Binti (Binti, #1)Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Audible

Title: Binti
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Year Published: 2015

Narrator: Robin Miles
Audiobook Length: 2 hours 15 minutes

Synopsis: Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself - but first she has to make it there, alive.


Review: This audiobook kept me at the edge of my driver's seat. This is a novella so it only lasts a little over two hours as an audiobook. I wanted more of this world. You are dropped into a futuristic world where humans are just one of the many alien species occupying the galactic society. Binti is the first of her people to go to this prestigious university, but things go wrong on the trip there. 

It was nice to read a sci-fi book that didn't focus on humans with a European ancestry. There are so many questions I had about this world. A sequel came out earlier this year called Home and I'm hoping to listen to it in audiobook format sometime soon. 

This is the first Nnedi Okorafor book I've read and now I want to start going through her catalog. I give this novella audiobook a 5/5


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Future Quest, Vol. 1 (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from DC Entertainment via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Future Quest, Vol. 1Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Future Quest, Vol. 1
Creators:  Jeff Parker, Evan Shaner, & Steve Rude 
Recent Release Date: February 15, 2017

Synopsis: When worlds collide, it’s up to Hanna-Barbera’s best-known action heroes to save the day! Johnny Quest, Space Ghost, the Herculoids and more are reimagined in this new collection! When Jonny Quest and his adoptive brother Hadji make a startling discovery in the swamplands of Florida, they are pulled into an epic struggle between the Space Rangers and a dangerous villain who threatens the galaxy. Now, it’s up to the combined forces of Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, the Herculoids, Birdman, Frankenstein Jr., the Impossibles, the Galaxy Trio and Mightor to stop him and save their universe! Collects FUTURE QUEST #1-6! 


Review: This concept of this comic is so cool. It remind me of a kid playing with all the toys in their toybox, not caring what properties they come from. It's the ultimate cross-over event. Many of these shows were on Cartoon Network as a kid. I was really into the 90s version of Johny Quest. 

Because there are so many different properties in this comic, it drags as new characters are introduced. I wasn't familiar with some of the properties so I didn't know what was references and what was original. From the properties I did know, I liked how they were modernized. 

I give this comic a 3/5. I really liked the concept, but it dragged and had too much going on. I would love a modern take on Johny Quest by himself.   


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Flintstones, Vol. 1 (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from DC Entertainment via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

The Flintstones, Vol. 1Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

The Flintstones, Vol. 1
Writer: Mark Russell
Illustrator: Steve Pugh
Recent Release Date: March 28, 2017

Synopsis: Fred and Barney reunite for Mark Russell's modern take on Hanna-Barbera's most famous stone-age family! 

This new series starring the first family of Bedrock (and civilization, really) tells the story of who we are and why we do what we do as if it all began with Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty, and the rest of the citizens of Bedrock. Shining a light on humanity's ancient customs and institutions in a funny origin story of human civilization, Mark Russell (PREZ) blends modern interpretations with Hanna-Barbera's classic character's, bringing a breath of fresh stone-age air. 

Hanna-Barbera has created some of the most recognizable animated characters of all time. As part of DC Comics' re-imagination of cartoons like Scooby-Doo, The Flintsones, Johnny Quest, Space Ghost, and Wacky Racers, these new series will be infused with modern and contemporary concepts while keeping the heart and soul of the classic animation. 

Collects THE FLINTSTONES #1-6. 


Review: This comic is an excellent modern take on an old classic. A very modern take. This volume deals with things like monogamy, domestication, ptsd, and religion. The political commentary is also very modern. 

The characters are classic, but the stories they tell are 2017. It reminds me of the old Dinosaurs tv show (with the puppets and costumes). It uses the pre-historic era as a lens to the modern age. 

There are some great references to the original Flinstones. Early on there's a vitamins reference. There's also an interesting origin to the phrase "yabba-dabba-doo" which gives more meaning to it. The appliances also are their own characters. The friendship between the bowling ball and the vacuum cleaner is so touching.

I give this comic a 5/5. This is now to retell a property that everyone is familiar with!


Monday, May 1, 2017

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: PINK (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: PinkAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: PINK

Writers: Brenden Fletcher, Kelly Thompson, & Tini Howard
Illustrator: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Recent Release Date: April 25, 2017

Synopsis: After leaving the Power Rangers, Kimberly Hart, the former Pink Ranger, is thrust back into the Ranger life and must call upon the help of old friends.

The original Pink Ranger returns!

After leaving the life of a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger behind, Kimberly Hart finds herself pulled back into the fray. With her parents missing and their village overrun by monsters, she must reclaim her destiny and discover the power that lies within. She’ll have to call on some old friends if she’s to unravel this mystery and save this once sleepy village.


Review: The original Pink Ranger, Kimberly Hart, takes center stage in this comic taking place after Kim has left the team to pursue her gymnastic career. Goldar has a plan of his own while Lord Zedd and Rita are off planet dealing with the Power Rangers. Goldar takes Kim's family hostage and she must reconnect with her powers to save the day. 

There were so many things I loved in this book! This was made for readers my age who grew up with the original Mighty Morphin squad. Nostalgia meter set to 11!

Kim isn't the only former ranger who comes back to ruin Goldar's plan. Zack and Trini are back and they also utilize the latent Pink energy remaining in Kim. The suits are epic! Zack's new Black Ranger outfit not only has pink accents, but also a hoodie vest!

There are so many references to the Zordon era of shows. Past zords come into play. The Sword of Light returns. The Shark Cycles are back with an upgrade. Serpentera as well as the helpful zords Tor and Titanus even show up. 

There are so many little details that really add to the characters. Trini is in Kim's phone with the yellow tiger emoji! Zack and Trini's post-Ranger life is very on-character. I really liked seeing Kim competing in gymnastics and getting to know her feelings on no longer being a ranger.

I love how BOOM! is modernizing and enriching the cardboard characters from my youth. There's also great diversity in this book. There's a team of 5 rangers using the Pink Power and Kim leads. Plus its pretty diverse in gender, race, and nationality. I hope they continue this trend of focusing on other characters. Jason is only mentioned briefly. I'd love to see his post-MMPR, pre-Zeo adventures. Or a focus on some of Rita's minions. A Finster backstory, please!

I give this comic a 5/5. HIGHLY RECOMMEND! A must-read for fans of Power Rangers, especially if your'e in your late 20's and were there in the beginning.